Canadian rail blockades enter 12th day

Prime minister cancels trip to hold meetings on crisis; official reports 'modest progress' after day of meetings with First Nations group behind key Ontario blockade
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Blockades of rail lines across Canada continue, with Canada’s prime minister cutting short an international trip to address the crisis, which saw new blockades develop over the weekend, and warnings of shortages and other commodities as the service disruption entered its 12th day.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled a scheduled trip to Barbados for a meeting of leaders from the Caribbean Community and returned home following a trip to Africa and Europe. The CBC reported Trudeau held a series of private meetings with cabinet officials  including Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Saturday, the Canadian government’s Indigenous Services minister, Marc Miller, met with representatives of the Mohawk Nation to discuss the Belleville, Ontario, blockade that led Canadian National to shut down operations in eastern Canada, which in turn led to a national stoppage of VIA Rail Canada service. Miller said Saturday night that the nine hours of talks produced “modest progress” but that “there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Miller told CTV News that he believed using force to end the Belleville blockade and others would only result in more disruptive future protests: “My advice to my colleagues is let’s make sure we get to a peaceful solution. That involves dialogue.”

Among the new blockades were two in the Toronto area, one of which disrupted GO Transit commuter trains. Protesters said on Twitter that they had been served with injunctions to end the blockades, but posted photographs of those injunctions being burned.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Canadian Propane Association said rationing of propane has begun in the Atlantic provinces and is under consideration in Quebec, and that trucks are facing long lines to be loaded with propane in Ontario. The senior vice president, public affairs, for the Retail Council of Canada said consumers could face shortages of household projects, including personal hygiene products and infant formula, as well as fresh food, if the blockades continue. The council represents 45,000 retailers in Canada.


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